DES MOINES, Iowa — Des Moines city council member Josh Mandelbaum introduced a proposal before the city council Monday evening asking fellow council members to consider discussing and adopting policies to protect women who choose to seek an abortion.

“This resolution focuses specifically on things we can do and should do,” Mendelbaum said.

Mandelbaum’s proposal was specifically asking the council to discuss in future workshops and discussions not using any city resources to:

  • Store or catalog any report of an abortion, miscarriage, or other reproductive healthcare act. 
  • Provide information to any other governmental body or agency about any abortion, miscarriage, or other reproductive healthcare act.
  • Conduct surveillance or collect information related to an individual or organization for the purpose of determining whether an abortion has occurred, except aggregated data.

According to the proposal, charges or information relating to the outcome of a pregnancy and abortion-related care will be the “lowest priority for enforcement and the use of City resources.”

The city would also draft an ordinance to reimburse its employees for travel relating to receiving reproductive services if they were no longer available in Iowa.

Before the issue was discussed, councilman Joe Gatto quickly voiced his opposition.

“This shouldn’t even be on our agenda. This is contrary to any state or federal law we have so I will make a motion to deny any consideration for a workshop or further discussion on a resolution. This is not our purview. This is a political stunt by one council member sitting at this table,” Gatto said.

Gatto’s motion was seconded by council member Connie Boesen before being challenged by councilwoman Indira Scheumaker.

“It is not a political stunt to try and protect our residents. It is a political statement to try and deny this and every single one of you here are taking a stance when you vote on this today,” Scheumaker said.

“It has nothing to do with that,” Gatto responded.

Boesen went on to say while she believes in a woman’s right to choose, she didn’t believe this is what the council should be doing.

“I would work tirelessly to get candidates in place and work with the legislature, just like the other items we’ve talked about,” Boesen said. “I don’t think (this) resolution would stand up.”

Mayor Frank Cownie agreed and voted down the measure but also made his stance on the issue clear.

“There are some of us up here that have been working on this issue for 35 to 40 years and I understand it. I strongly support the rights of all residents to keep their health care matters private and to make their own decisions regarding their health care,” Cownie said. “However, this isn’t a city issue.”

After being challenged, Mandelbaum cited the city’s stance on marijuana enforcement as justification to take up the issue of abortion.

“We took positions,” Mandelbaum said. “We started registering on bills up at the Capitol related to legalization and decimalization of marijuana which is not in our purview, but which directly affects our residents.”